Frode Gjerstad Quartet: Through the Woods

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
If asked to name the countries that have historically been the hotbeds of European free improvisation it's unlikely that most jazz enthusiasts would include Norway among their lists. England, Germany and France, yes, but Norway? Granted, players such as Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal and Arlid Andersen hail from Norway, but the careers of these veteran improvisers have only flirted with the idiom, their styles more commonly rooted in the creative atmospherics favored by Manfred Eicher's ECM label. Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad has been working diligently for over a decade to build an indigenous tradition for the music and based on his growing log of victories it appears that his efforts are starting to bear fruit. With an expanding discography and an array of projects both in the works and under his belt Gjerstad continues to advance a musical art form that is still in its fledgling stages on his native soil.

On this particular date, recorded in the sonic sanctum of the Spirit Room, Gjerstad takes full advantage of the unique recording techniques that are the CIMP label's signature approach. Deciding on a program of minimally pre-devised tunes Gjerstad sets a course in the direction that he knows best- spontaneously conceived collective improvisation. It turns out to be a highly satisfying strategy, due in no small part to the three players he's convened for the quartet, each of whom are flexible enough to flourish in such a setting of unrestrained creativity.

Bradford opts to concentrate only cornet and it's a real pleasure to witness his creations on the smaller, rounder-toned instrument, which lose none of the precision characteristic of his improvisations on his usual trumpet. Gjerstad's alto is typically exquisite throughout, negotiating tricky melodic and rhythmic twists with speed and perspicacity of a seasoned empiricist. Rounding out the group, Morris and Baker are an ideal rhythm team and both find plenty of space for their own contributions. The under-recorded Baker is particularly noteworthy and the lithesome touch he brings to his kit powers the group with a loose, but exacting undercurrent of rhythms. Morris' muttered vocalizations which often accompany his reticular bass lines give an audible affirmation of how much the man gets into his instrument.

With recordings like this one Gjerstad continues to write the book on Norwegian free improvisation, almost single-handedly and doggedly advancing the music from his own unique perspective. There's no doubt that if Norway's jazz scene had been populated by like-minded musician's of his vision and enthusiasm in earlier years the country would today be regarded as at the forefront of the idiom. Give this disc a listen for proof of why.

Track Listing: Through the Woods/ Frodiodi/ J7/ LA-Stavanger/ X-Mas Cards/ Pip/ The Smell of Autumn.

Recorded: September 15 & 16, 1997, The Spirit Room, Rossie, New York.

Available directly through North Country Distributors (http://www.cadencebuilding.com)

Side Note: Gjerstad's trio featuring bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake will be touring the United States in January 2000. Don't miss the opportunity witness their music first hand. Tour dates and locations are listed below.

Friday, 14th Chicago, IL
Saturday, 15th Chicago, IL
Sunday, 16th Minneapolis, MN
Tuesday, 18th Bloomington, IN
Wednesday, 19th Chicago, IL
Friday, 21st Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday, 22nd Pittsburgh, PA
Tuesday, 25th San Diego, CA
Wednesday, 26th Portland, OR
Thursday, 27th Seattle, WA
Friday, 28th Vancouver, British Columbia
Saturday, 29th Edmonton, Alberta

Personnel: Frode Gjerstad- alto saxophone; Bobby Bradford- trumpet; Wilbur Morris- double bass; Newman Baker- drums.

| Record Label: CIMP Records | Style: Modern Jazz


More Articles

Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Allison Philips Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Allison Philips Trio
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 27, 2016
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Unstatic" CD/LP/Track Review Unstatic
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 11, 2016
Read "To The Universe" CD/LP/Track Review To The Universe
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 14, 2016
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Dare to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Dare to Be
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 8, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!